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Pa. Man Charged in 1982 Death of Toddler

September 27, 2006

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ A man who confessed two decades ago to killing his girlfriend’s toddler daughter, only to have the case thrown out because of lack of corroboration, was charged again Wednesday in her death.

Timothy Wayne Widman was charged with criminal homicide in the death of 3-year-old Nicole Lynn Bryner, who vanished in March 1982. Prosecutors had dropped an involuntary manslaughter charge in 1987 because state law required corroborating evidence.

The criminal complaint did not appear to detail any new developments in the case against Widman, 51, of Pittsburgh. Police and the county prosecutor’s office did not immediately return messages seeking comment on why the new charges were filed.

In March 1982, Nicole’s mother, Melody Thomas Childs, reported her daughter missing from a supermarket, but the child’s body was not found.

Four years later, Widman told police that on March 9, 1982, he slapped Nicole when he became angry after she bit his toe, according to the police criminal complaint. He said she fell backward and struck her head, police said.

Widman told the mother what happened and they put her to bed, according to police. They later realized she was dead and put her body in a plastic bag, and Widman buried it in a wooded area, police said.

In 1987, then-Allegheny County District Attorney Bob Colville said charges were dropped because prosecutors couldn’t prove a crime occurred. Investigators have been unable to find any independent evidence to support Widman’s confession, he said.

State law required corroborating evidence, even when there was a confession, to guard against the prosecution of a mentally ill person making a false confession, Colville had said.

At the time, Widman was imprisoned for burglary and receiving stolen property.

It was not immediately clear if Widman has an attorney.

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